Thursday, December 8, 2016

Escape Adventures Visits The Local Tourism Board

It was easy to chat about Escape Adventures' new Florida bike tours to the Indian River Council Tourist Development Council Wednesday afternoon because all the rides are winners and it's just a matter of getting the word out about our tours for seven bike rides around Florida, including two in beautiful Indian River County.

I recall visiting Indian River County on Florida's mid-East Coast many times when living in Tampa because I enjoyed cycling the long stretches of A1A from Vero to either the Sebastian Inlet to the north or the Fort Pierce Inlet to the south.

A cool part was that we were able to play our EA Florida bike tour video.

The county tourism board, made up of local hoteliers and tourist business owners, had some great questions and one member even asked about taking him and his buddies to the West Orange trail in Orange County and I said, heck yeah!

Afterwards, I had a great chat with Will Collins, owner of the iconic Capt Hirams Resort on the Indian River lagoon in Sebastian.

Will is a super bright guy who went to college in Boulder, Colo. and knows bicycling.

Escape Adventures looks forward to meeting up with Will again to talk about how we can work together to drive tourism.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Escape Adventures Has Officially Arrived In Florida

"Remember, don't go through drive-thrus."

And with those words, Escape Adventures owner Jared Fisher bid me and a loaded Honda Odyssey mini-van racked, wrapped and packed to the gills farewell for a 2,500-mile car ride from Jared's driveway to my house in Vero Beach, Fla.

Escape Adventures is pushing the frontier of its impressive inventory of bike tours not West but eastward and I'm working with Jared's can-do, bike-loving, adventure-living staff to launch seven gorgeous bike tours scattered around the state of Florida, Here's a list of the bike tours.

Five bicycles were attached to the roof via a bike roof, with another four sitting on a rack attached to the rear of the car. And another five were wedged inside the vehicle, with boxes of brochures, parts, press releases, tools and Escape Adventures shirts and caps squeezed in, too.

After a day working with staff members on Wednesday, Jared and I packed the Escape Adventures vehicle at his house at 6:30 p.m. I was wired and ready to roll.

No need to spend the night in Las Vegas.

At about 7:15 p.m., I carefully backed out of Jared's driveway and began the long trek to Florida.

*   *   *

Wide awake, I drove south into Arizona and began the long stretch on Interstate 40 across the Grand Canyon State and New Mexico.

As I drove through the night into Thursday morning, I was mesmerized by a clear sky filled with dazzling lights and the hours rolled along broken up by pit stops to gas up the vehicle and grab a snack.

Eastern New Mexico was fascinating because many people don't realize how high the elevation is there, I was hitting 7,700 feet and the temperatures before Thursday's sunrise had plummeted to 14 degrees. This was a fun stop along I-40 in NM.

Through Albuquerque and then into north Texas we drove, with a harrowing trek through the metro Dallas area -- a sea of highways and fast-moving cars.

By Thursday night, the EA-mobile with its 14 bikes was moving from Texas into Louisiana, with Friday sunrise celebrated with a dawn stop in central Mississippi.

By mid-Friday morning, I reached the eastern edge of the Florida panhandle. There were still so many miles to go to reach Vero Beach,

*   *   *

About 600 miles -- one-fourth of the cross-country journey -- was spent Friday across the top tier of Florida and then down south along its central spine through Lake City and Gainesville and Ocala and Orlando.

By 7:30 p.m. Friday -- two days after I left Jared's driveway -- I pulled into my driveway.

Escape Adventures is open for business in Florida.

We will feature bike rides all around the state, offering a premium product. Our comfortable vehicle will pick you up at your hotel and we'll put you on a new road bicycle that has slightly wider tires than the conventional road tire to provide you more stability.

If our ride options don't fit your location or interest, we will customize a bike ride adventure you will enjoy.

I have biked all around Florida and there are some great places to bike that didn't make our Top 7 offerings but are also wonderful bicycle experiences.

I can show you fun local eateries and the tour is your ride, so I look forward to sharing a great bike ride that you will remember for a long time.

Can't wait to ride with you and be your personal tour guide.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Escape Adventures FLORIDA Ready To Roll This Week

So, my new chapter with Escape Adventures begins Tuesday when I go to Las Vegas to get behind the wheel of this vehicle.

It's the Escape Adventures bike tour vehicle that I will use to pick people up for their bike tours. Here is a list of Escape Adventures FLORIDA bike tours.

I will be driving this vehicle back to Florida with about 10 bikes or so.

We're ready to roll!.

Check out our Escape Adventures FLORIDA bike video. Scenes from all our tours in Fla. are in the video.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Escaping The Newspaper World For Escape Adventures

When I worked at the daily newspaper in Las Vegas, I used to admire Escape Adventures bike tours and this Jared guy, the founder and owner and marathon bicyclist who seemed to be doing 50 things at once while also biking through the night somewhere through Death Valley or Henderson or Utah or across the center of Nevada.

I'm a crazy bicycle guy who thinks up crazy bike rides like biking across the state of Florida from the Atlantic Ocean in Vero Beach to the Gulf of Mexico in Clearwater Beach in one day -- 175 miles all along State Road 60.

I soon realized that ride would be a nice warm-up for Jared.

I also got to know Jared's original, resourceful and unpretentious business techniques by writing about some of his Escape Adventures tours, such as three days in Utah with a tour guide named Merrick who enjoyed rolling out his sleeping bag and catching his Zs under the stars.

Jared also loved mountain biking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, so I wrote about one of his mountain bike festivals there.

Life changed at my Las Vegas newspaper when casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson bought the Review-Journal nearly a year ago. I went newspaper job shopping and found a job in Vero Beach, Fla. about two hours or so north of my dad and my sister who both live in South Florida.

I was hired by a fascinating weekly newsmagazine in Vero Beach to cover business news and I said good-bye to Vegas, the desert and this fella named Jared.

But not for long.

*   *   *

So, I got to Vero in March with Pugsy -- the 17 year-old canine critter with the sweetest, most peaceful, zen-like personality you have ever seen this side of Mother Teresa.

The new newspaper job was OK.

The owner was a guy named Milt, another original. He's a deep-voiced former editor and writer at the Washington Post who carved out a lucrative news market on the Vero barrier island thanks to ultra-local hard-hitting local news coverage that had a certain literary bite to it.

But it wasn't bicycles.

And I wanted to get back to the two-wheeled world.

So, I made a pitch to Jared back in Vegas.

How about expanding East to offer day bike tours along the prettiest bike routes in Florida? I'll take guests out on these rides as an Escape Adventures employee and now you can say Escape Adventures offers tours everywhere from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.

I asked Jared to come to Florida. Bike with me on my favorite bike rides.

And if the routes were awesome enough, fly your drone, capture amazing bike footage and spin your video magic with a Florida day tour promotion video.

And he did just that. The video rocks.

We biked seven different tours in 2 1/2 days covering 275 miles along routes in different parts of the state, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. And at the coolest spots, we'd stop and Jared would take out his drone.

Jared rode my 1993 Cannondale R-300 road bike with the downtube shifters (he didn't shift; he just kept the gear setting in one position to replicate his single-gear bike back home).

And all the while he kept the drone in his backpack and piled up the mileage with that gear on his back.

I had picked Florida's nicest bike rides -- the hills of Clermont and Mt. Dora in Lake County, the underrated Ormond Loop, and the Withlacoochee, Pinellas and Lake Okeechobee trails.

These bike rides are like great, old-time friends. I knew whenever I returned to them, they would lift me up.

And these rides didn't disappoint.

Jared and I batted emails back and forth to reach an agreement.

And now Escape Adventures will add some amazing bike tours to its stunning roster of great bike experiences out West.

*   *   *

So, Escape Adventures is in launch mode for its new Florida day tours.

Check out the terrific slate of Florida rides.

I've gone from working with senior writers at a weekly paper to now becoming co-workers and friends with a brand new group of can-do bicycle tour lovers who make Escape Adventures a leading bike tour company in this country. There's Heather, Brittany, Eric, Sally, Kevin, Merrick, Nikki and others who love to get people biking in special and inspiring places in our country.

I can't wait for this new trip of my life to start.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Escape Adventures Of Las Vegas Expands To Florida With New Statewide Bike Tours In The Sunshine State

I'm back in the bicycle business.

I am joining Las Vegas-based Escape Adventures and we are launching a new Florida bicycle tour operation that will feature -- at first -- seven beautiful day bike rides that are located in gorgeous settings from the Atlantic Ocean to the forests and hills of central Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

Here's a nice video taste of our featured rides.

It's an honor to work with Jared and Heather Fisher -- two great bicycle people and community leaders from Las Vegas who own Escape Adventures and the Las Vegas Cyclery out of Vegas and the Moab Cyclery bike shop in Utah. Jared is the most original, unique, hard-working and hard-driving bicycle man in the business, and I found a kindred spirit who also believes in living a Bicycle Life.

Jared and Heather started Escape Adventures 25 years ago and they have grown the bike touring operation into the premier bike tour business of the western United States. Here's a nice summary of this dynamic couple.  It's an honor to work with Jared and Heather as they expand Escape Adventures into Florida.

We expect to launch our seven bike tours in early December. We have focused on beautiful Florida natural settings where bicyclists can enjoy pedaling amid gorgeous scenery. The seven rides are:

-- Vero Beach A1A Ocean Ride from Vero Beach to either the Sebastian Inlet or the Fort Pierce Inlet. This is a gorgeous ride along the Atlantic with not too much car traffic and access to the ocean.

 -- Jungle Trail is a serene ride on a hard-packed dirt road that runs along the Indian River Lagoon and through tranquil tree canopy in north Indian River County.

-- The famed Pinellas Trail, a beautiful trail ride that runs from St. Petersburg's waterfront through several Pinellas County downtowns to Tarpon Springs, the Greek City.

-- The beautiful Withlacoochee Trail, known for its lovely tree canopy and rural setting about an hour north of Tampa.

-- The rolling hills of Clermont and Lake County, nicknamed the "Alps of Florida," about an hour northwest of Orlando.

-- The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail, featuring inspiring views from cycling the berm that surrounds the "Big Lake."

-- The Ormond Loop, a spectacular bike ride that features the tree canopy of Tomoka State Park, and the watery vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal.

Stay tuned for more announcements as we prepare for our December launch.